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As a kid, Nicholas J. Natale loved Take Your Child to Work Day when he could join his father James at Lockheed Martin in Valley Forge, PA. Now as an adult, Natale works there, too. Harrisburg University helped him get there.

Natale, 21, is an associate software engineer and his father is a test engineer.

While he was in high school, Natale had planned to attend a Philadelphia-area college. But Harrisburg University officials piqued his interest when they sent him information about the Trustees Merit Scholarship.

“I ended up getting the merit scholarship, which covered my entire tuition for the first year,” said Natale, who lives in Pottstown. “I didn’t want to graduate and have a exorbitant amount of debt.”

Before coming to Harrisburg, he already had some experience with college. While he was still a high school sophomore, Natale started taking classes at Montgomery County Community College. He earned an associates degree there a month before before graduating from high school in 2011. He started at HU from that fall, graduating in May 2013.

At Harrisburg, he majored in computer and information sciences with a concentration in software engineering and system analysis. He appreciated the attention Harrisburg gave to engineering software.

Natale benefited from professors who brought in information and real-life situations they encountered at work, he said. Team projects he did at Harrisburg helped prepare him for working on a team at his job.

“I like the small environment where you know your professors’ names and they know who you are,” Natale said. “I had classes of 10 people. You had that team environment that you have at work, and that’s what I think works best.”

Natale also liked the sense of community at Harrisburg University, enjoying watching a football game or just spending time with other students. “I met a lot of great people.”

In classes and seminars, Natale impressed Assistant Professor Albert Sarvis. “He’s certainly motivated by academics. He would often get intrigued and go above and beyond,” said Sarvis, who taught Natale in a junior and senior seminar. “Some students decided early on how they feel about a topic. He’s always open to learning new things about something.”

Natale wants to start a Harrisburg University alumni association. He returned to the university in fall 2013 to speak with prospective students.

Now he’s working on his master’s degree at Penn State Great Valley. “I’m on a little bit of a fast track right now. I figure I might as well keep going.” He plans to earn his first master’s in software engineering and a second in project management or IT project management.

Sarvis predicts Natale will be successful in whatever he does. “He’s somebody who clearly wants to keep learning more and more,” Sarvis said.

Natale hopes to keep moving up, academically and professionally. “Really long term I would hope to get my PhD somewhere. I’d like to teach, maybe at Harrisburg University.”